A beached sperm whale died on Friday night on a Norfolk beach despite a major rescue operation to get it back into the sea. The 45-foot whale got stuck in shallow waters on Friday afternoon at Hunstanton, Norfolk. The adult male sperm whale (bull) died about ninety minutes before low tied just before midnight.
Personnel from Hunstanton’s Sea Life Sanctuary, members of RNLI, and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency had worked hard to free the enormous animal, but sadly with no success.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency wrote in its blog:
“At around 3.30pm yesterday afternoon, the whale was spotted in a pod of up to six whales swimming close to the beach. Despite efforts from British Divers Marine Life Rescue and Beach Wardens from the Sea Life Centre to refloat the whale out to sea it later died at around 11pm. The whale is estimated to be 40-45ft long and weighs approximately 30 tonnes.”
Initially, when the whale was stuck in shallow water, it struggled and thrashed its tail desperately. A companion, which was also stuck, managed to get back into deeper water. Sadly, this one did not.
Initially, when it was stuck in shallow water, the animal thrashed and struggled energetically. However, as the tide retreated, its struggles became considerably weaker. Large gashes and wounds caused by grazing its skin against chalk and carrstone boulders were clearly visible in the moonlight.
Geoff Needham of the RNLI told Anglia News that the dead whale disappeared again, pulled out into the sea by the tide current.
Mr. Needham added:
“We’re not sure where the whale will wash up again next, it could head up with the tide towards Brancaster following the coast along.”
A team of experts from the Zoological Society will be in West Norfolk on Monday. They will try to carry out an examination of the whale when it is located again.
Sperm whales rarely seen so near to the beach
Sperm whales are rarely seen swimming so close to the coast. Locals said the last time one was spotted near the beach was four years ago.
When the tide had gone out, the gentle giant was exhausted, and soon died. In this picture you can see several bleeding wounds from when it grazed itself against the rocks.
Richard Johnson, from the UK Coastguard, said:
“It was obviously a very distressing scene earlier and we would ask the public to stay away from the beach. We are due to cordon off the area and later today an officer from the Zoological Society of London will be inspecting the animal and carrying out tests.”
The Eastern Daily Press quoted Brian Long, portfolio holder for the environment with West Norfolk Council, who said that specialists will be brought in to cut up the carcass and remove the whole animal. He does not think this will occur until Monday.
People from HM Coastguard, RNLI and Hunstanton Sealife Sanctuary tried to save the whale.
Mr. Long said:
“It’s a terrible thing, we’d advise the public to keep away from it. They do attract a lot of attention, being such big animals, people do flock to look.”
Video – Sperm whale panics in shallow water
This video, filmed by Gary Pearson, from Dersingham, shows the sperm whale struggling and thrashing its tale in shallow water off Hunstanton, Norfolk. It later died after injuring its tail.